Welcome back to The Carchive, the radically repackaged internet series charting the brochures that time forgot and landfill rejected.
Those of you with access to the internet may recollect our visit to the world-stopping Fiat Strada (or Ritmo to glamorous continental types). Well, if you’ve been waiting for the sequel, then thrust your arms skywards in a show of ecstatic delight, because here it is. Strada II. This time it’s serious.
Sort of. The Strada/Ritmo that initially repulsed/amused/disappointed/aroused (delete where appropriate) the world back in the ’70s was born of a very technically advanced design process, even if the actual end product was a little light in actual innovation itself.
There was little to it, technologically, the car contained little that Fiat hadn’t actually done before. What it certainly did achieve, though, was to modernize the image of the great Italian company. To the public of the time Fiat still mainly stood for tiny 500s and 126s, cheap, tinny hatchbacks and boring three-box saloon cars (excluding the 130 coupe which still has bits of me quivering involuntarily). There had been the odd stand-out moment involving Dinos and the like, but that point was lost on most people.
With the advent of the VW Golf, which almost created the quality hatchback format; Fiat and everybody else had a new benchmark to emulate. Strada was Fiats shot at that sector.
“Strada II is, like its highly acclaimed and highly successful predecessor, revolutionary”
Not really. The robotic assembly methods may have been close to science fiction, but the car itself was really very conventional. The one thing that made it stand out was the styling which whipped up the sort of controversy you might experience were you to, say, yodel during a wake. It had mad, staring headlamps and dozens of other oddnesses of strange proportion and peculiar shape.
But by the advent of the II, it was mostly just a vague, dreamlike memory. There were, suddenly, normal sized rear lamps. There was a front grille with slats, like other cars had. The way the new quad headlamps stood out from said grille by a few inches was a BIT strange, but all in all the Strada II was very much a reformed act.
This was a shame, really.
“The car’s handling, steering, braking and roadholding were developed on Fiats high speed test tracks and very much reflect a company intimately involved with rallying and the development of Ferrari Formula One racing cars”
That’s probably a slightly tenuous link, but the Strada never had much to be ashamed about in terms of handling, the strut setup front and rear did a reasonable job of things, and was certainly compatible with the class norm. Things started to liven up, though, with the star car of this particular brochure:
“1600 refers, of course, to its throaty, high performance 1585cc engine which develops no less than 105bhp”
The 105TC. A twin-cam, sporting version of the Strada which showed what the machine could be made to do without too much persuasion, returned in this facelifted form.
“While everything possible has been done on the cars exterior to improve performance, inside everything possible has been done to ensure you enjoy it”.
There was a full complement of instruments, a grippy alloy-bossed steering wheel and rather racier seats than the Comfort or Super versions, which were already comfortable and relatively super. The 105TC took 9.5 seconds to reach 60, not mind-blowing but enough to feel spirited. and comparable with the similarly powerful Escort XR3i at the time. There was more to come, though.
The Abarth scorpion would soon appear, on the 130TC, dropping the dash to sixty to under eight seconds, and passing into minor legend while doing so. Unfortunately, this particular brochure doesn’t stretch to quite those heights of excitement.
(Disclaimer: All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials. All copyright is owned by Fiat, who need to be making really cool wheels again.)